BRISBANE's A-League title defence has been dealt a major blow after Russian First Division club Alania Vladikavkaz announced they have signed Roar's All Whites striker Kosta Barbarouses.
Alania, who were relegated from the Russian top flight in 2010, confirmed Barbarouses' signing on a three-year deal for an undisclosed fee on the club's website on Friday afternoon.
The 21-year-old forward, who scored 12 goals in 33 appearances during Brisbane's successful 2010-11 campaign, had been trialling at a number of European clubs in recent months including Alania.
Barbarouses has now agreed to terms with Alania who are owned by Valery Gazzaev, who coached CSKA Moscow to the 2005 UEFA Cup.
The All Whites striker's departure is a big blow for the reigning A-League champions' forward stocks after already losing Jean Carlos Solorzano to Melbourne Victory.
"I switched to Alania with high hopes. I want to help Alania back in the Premier League of Russian football," Barbarouses said on the club's website.
He added: "To become a big player you need to go to Europe, to Russia. I have a chance to prove my worth as a footballer at a higher level and help the team in its objectives.
"I note that the club is like one big family, they have greeted me warmly and cheerfully."
The All Whites forward admitted he had interest from other clubs but said he had been impressed by Alania, who were Russian champions in 1995.
"There had been proposals from teams in other countries, but the proposal of Alania was the most serious," he said.
Barbarouses revealed he knew little about the Ossetian club when first approached by them.
"My first reaction was I had never heard of Alania," he said.
"I searched for information about them on the Internet and realized this is an ambitious team with great tradition, who became the champion in 1995.
"The club president Valery Gazzaev is a very famous person in the world of football, who enjoys great prestige."
Alania had earned promotion to Russia's Premier League in 2009, but were relegated in their first season back up in 2010.
The Ossetian club are currently second in Russia's First Division at the halfway point of the season, while they will compete in the 2011-12 Europa League after finishing runners-up in the 2010-11 Russian Cup.